Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Year

The year has has turned.  The house is quiet, still, ready to walk with us down the miraculous path that lies ahead.

We were up late on New Year's Eve, though not quite to midnight, playing an improvised version of Balderdash.  Driving back to Fort McMurray from Kamsack, we listened to a similar word definition game on CBC Radio.  In our case, we found a website that generated random words from the English language.  All five of us (brother-n-law Chris is living with us at the moment - explanation to follow) took turns picking a word from the website.  Each person made up a possible definition for the word.  They were then read aloud, along with the real definition, and we had to guess which one was real.

It was a lot of fun as we had to use our imagination and language skills.  On the final turn, we all wrote definitions before finding out the word.  That was an absolute hoot!

Backing up to why our household population has grown by one.  At the beginning of December, Chris started a new job as Assistant Deputy Emergency Management with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.  He retired from the Canadian Forces, last based in Ottawa, after securing the position here.  Corinne will eventually follow as will at least some or all of the boys.  We ended 2015 very thankful that we have added some family to our community.

I have been rather negligent in maintaining my Wood Buffalo Update correspondences.  I apologize.  What began as a bi-weekly endeavour has changed to monthly, bi-monthly and now bi-annual.  During a recent visit with my cousin Guy Dore in Kamsack, he wondered if it was still being sent, as he hadn't seen one in awhile.

Frankly, my spare time has been absorbed by many hours spent in Birdsong Studio, the adopted name of our workshop in the backyard that has gone from being a motorcycle repair space and songwriting enclave with the previous owner to being an extra bedroom, carpentry shop and now art space with us.  It also become an art space for others, as I have had a number of guests join me in recent months including Taylor, a young fellow who works in oil sands who wanted to reignite his artistic passions.
Our family in the north has had a great year marked by various travelling and learning adventures.  Heather has pursued various dimensions of her practice, spending time in both California and West Virginia.  I made my annual pilgrimage to Mindcamp in Ontario while Dylan returned to his beloved Artstrek in Red Deer.  Ben travelled into the mountains for an amazing ski trip.

As a family we convened in the beautiful environs of the Kootenays in southern British Columbia in August with the Wagners, and returned to Saskatchewan to spend time with the Thomases in Kamsack at Christmas.  Both trips were memorable and heart-filling.

Heather has integrated drawing and colouring into her daily practice
Heather's first painting in many years - a stunning portrait of Nina Simone
Heather is doing remarkably well.  She is healthy, vibrant, beautiful, motivated and inspired. Yesterday she posted a lovely blog that I would encourage you to read by clicking here.  It contains some great ideas about how to approach the new year and, in fact, every single day.

Dylan on location during the filming of The Good Survivor
Dylan is coming off a super busy fall of performing, gaming and learning.  He is now is Grade 11.  I have to give my head a shake every time I say it.  Where did the time go?  He performed in a play at Westwood High School and was one of the feature performers in a short film project called The Good Survivor.  Watch a brief preview below.  We are all looking forward to watching the finished project when it gets completed in February.

Ben is in Grade 7, and like Dylan balances his time between gaming, learning and creating.  He focuses more on visual creations like drawing and filmmaking.  As we were driving back to Kamsack for Christmas, Ben spent hours sketching portraits in the back seat that were pretty remarkable.  He continues to be interested in skiing.

Ben is enjoying his skiing adventures
The two of us enjoyed a great day at Vista Ridge over the holidays; it was my first time skiing in about a decade.  He was expecting that I would be like a rickety granny and was rather surprise when I gave him a run for his money on a couple of races down the hill.

For me, 2015 was one of the best years of my life; I'd be lying if I said otherwise.  I love my work with the United Way, the various contracts that I took on with Birdsong Connections, and my painting.  I spent some time creating a graphic of all the paintings that happened in 2015.  Here it is:

Pretty crazy, huh?  Like everyone else, I am getting older.  Seeing things at a distance and up close are both challenges for me now.  As such, I'll be getting my first pair of glasses in just a matter of days.  So, the next time you see me, there were be something different.

I was negligent in putting together our annual Christmas newsletter, full of pictures and memories.  Too many clients were waiting for paintings, which meant that every spare minute was spent at the easel.  Hopefully this Wood Buffalo Update will suffice.

Lots of love, hugs and hope from all of us to all of you.  Happy New Year!

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